Have you ever wondered where metal comes from, how humans figured out how to make brass, or why rose gold is just a slightly different hue? We’ve created a comprehensive chart of metals and their alloys: A list of common metal alloys like this can help us answer many questions we have about our metal tools, our everyday lives, and our universe!
Where Does Metal Come From?
Scan our different types of metals list and you can see the wide variety of metals and their properties, but where do metals come from? Metallic elements like copper, lead, and gold all come from exploding stars! That’s right! Stars like our sun combine hydrogen atoms together to form helium, but bigger, denser stars that sometimes explode into supernovae create bigger atoms like those of lead. That’s where we get different metals on the periodic table! But the types of metals listed here are alloys, so where do they come from?
What Is an Alloy?
Combine two or more metallic elements and you get a metal alloy! A definition you could use for “alloy” is “a mix of metals.” Copper can’t be broken down into other elements, but brass could be, since it is made typically of copper and zinc. Copper, which is a metal common to the alloys brass and bronze, cannot be split anymore, so it is not an alloy. In essence, if you were to be in the field asking for the difference between “metal” and “alloy,” it can be very difficult to tell without chemical tests.
How Is Metal Made?
Metal is made either by exploding stars, which create metal elements like gold and copper, or by combining those elements to create alloys, like brass and bronze. So when we ask, “what is metal made out of?” we’re actually asking a pretty complex question. The answer to the question of “how is metal created?” depends also on if it’s natural vs. man-made metals. But don’t get confused! Some alloys on our metal alloys list can be found naturally, and some elements can only be contained in their pure form in the lab!
Which Metals Are Alloys?
We’ve created a helpful list of alloys and their composition to help you tell alloys and metallic elements apart. Examples of alloys include white gold (where gold is an element), sterling silver (where silver is an element), steel (which is a strong alloy made of iron and carbon), and types of alloys you may have never heard of, like billon or babbit!
Metal Alloy Composition List
We’ve created a list of metal alloys and their uses – like manufacturing or building, composition, and even where their metallic elements come from. These are all types of metals and alloys that have been useful in building modern society; isn’t it interesting that they’re all basically made of star stuff?
- Amalgam (mercury, silver, tin, copper, and possibly other elements such as zinc, platinum, etc.)
- Alnico (aluminum, nickel, cobalt, titanium, and copper)
- Babbit (copper, antimony, and lead)
- Billon (copper and silver)
- Brass (copper, zinc, and possibly other elements such as manganese, iron, lead, etc.)
- Bronze (copper, tin, and possibly other elements such as aluminum, silicon, etc.)
- Cast Iron (iron, carbon, and possibly silicon)
- Duralumin (aluminum, copper, and possibly magnesium and manganese)
- Electrum (gold, silver, and copper)
- German Silver (copper, silver, and zinc)
- Gunmetal (copper, tin, and zinc)
- Magnox (magnesium and aluminum)
- Pewter (tin, copper, lead, and antimony)
- Rose Gold (gold and copper)
- Solder (lead and tin)
- Stainless Steel (iron, chromium, carbon, molybdenum, and possibly other elements such as copper, silicon, and sulfur)
- Steel (iron, carbon, and other elements such as carbon, manganese, silicon, tungsten, and others)
- Sterling Silver (silver, copper, and possibly elements like zinc, germanium, platinum, and boron)
- White Gold (gold, palladium, nickel, and zinc)
- Wood’s Metal (bismuth, lead, tin, and cadmium)